Katatonia
Viva Emptiness


3.0
good

Review

by GhostOvPerdition USER (5 Reviews)
December 30th, 2010 | 24 replies


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist

Review Summary: On Viva Emptiness, Katatonia attempt to combine their soft, vulnerable alt-rock side with aggressive, in-your-face heavy metal, resulting unfortunately, in a record of cringe worthy angst.

Katatonia has undergone a steady, linear progression throughout their career. They started out as a death/doom band but evolved over time into a softer and more melodic style that has been described as “alternative doom” or “dark rock” (their preferred label). In my opinion, the pinnacle of Katatonia’s ever changing sound was achieved on their latest LP Night is the New Day, a record that was light on aggression and heavy on melancholy, and definitely better for it. Katatonia also made it one of their darkest albums yet by favoring atmosphere over gothic catchiness, and expressing their trademark sorrow in a mature and thoughtful way. Now, along their path of progression from the bleak and effectively simple sound of Brave Murder Day, to the lush, melodic soundscapes of Night is the New Day, lies a disappointing album called Viva Emptiness. On this record, Katatonia attempted to combine their softer, vulnerable alt-rock side with aggressive, in-your-face heavy metal, resulting, unfortunately, in a record of cringe worthy angst. For whatever reason, Viva Emptiness is still a respected and popular album, but it is an undeniable failure to me, especially when held up to the standards of their earliest and latest releases.

The first track Ghost of the Sun actually opens up quite promisingly, pummeling the listener with heavy bass, drums, and weird guitar riffs, before simmering down to a melodic and restrained section to make room for the soft vocals of Jonas Renske. The lyrics and their delivery match perfectly with the music, and as the song picks up again to the heavy bass rhythm shown at the start of the song, set over the interesting line “City of glass, and I live in the coldness of my brother’s skin!” it begins to feel like this is going to be a very good record indeed! Unfortunately things go downhill moments later, as Katatonia ditch lyrical subtlety for melodrama with the next line; “I trusted you, you lied, it’s all I hear, a ***ing lie! Don’t give a ***, it’s over now, it’s all I know, you broke the vow…I TRUSTED YOUUUU!” C’mon guys, you can do better than that.

Ghost of the Sun is still a very good track, but the style that they take in it foreshadows of what the rest of the record has in store (namely, disappointment). The next track, Sleeper, is decent, but it doesn’t stand out as anything special, and Jonas Renske disappoints once again with his lyrics and delivery. In fact, my biggest issue with this album is with Jonas; he seems to think that if you sing anything with his signature wounded croon, than it will fit well with the music. Oftentimes, it really doesn’t. I was surprised by this, because one of Katatonia’s biggest strengths on their later albums, The Great Cold Distance, and Night is the New Day was how well Jonas’s voice accompanied the music, never taking over the show, yet still ever-present as a voice of sorrow and a powerful emotional instrument. His lyrics were also appropriately esoteric on those records; instead of shoving emotion down our throats in an obvious and immature way, as is often the case on this album, he gave the listener a little more to work for. Subtlety is key.

The third track, Criminals, is actually downright terrible, showing some of their weakest songwriting to date, lyrically and instrumentally. Fortunately, Criminals is the only truly awful track on the album, the rest of the tracks range from average to pretty good. Wealth is one of the good tracks; it's interesting, well-crafted, and it features some great riffs that sound almost like a darker take on the poppy Jet song Are You Gonna Be My Girl".This probably wasn't intentional, but I often come back to it anyways to laugh at how Katatonia can make just about anything sound bleak and depressing. A Premonition is another good track, and my personal favorite on the album. It's a mysterious and pretty song that hints at the style that they would adopt on their next two records, and although that style isn’t quite there yet, it’s still a pretty good track. Here lies my other main issue with Viva Emptiness, that Katatonia’s songwriting simply isn’t at its prime here. Most of the songs on Viva Emptiness are passable, but none of them are as stand-out brilliant as say, Brave, Forsaker, or In the White, from better albums of theirs. If this were a track-by-track review, the highest that I could rate any song would be a 4/5, which makes for a pretty underwhelming experience over-all.

Viva Emptiness simply doesn't show Katatonia at their thoughtful and mature best. The aggressive, metal elements on this album come across as angsty and contrived, Jonas hadn't quite figured out how to work with his band, and the songwriting leaves much to be desired. I must admit that is still an enjoyable listen at times, but overall, Viva Emptiness is the sound of a band in an awkward progressive transition.

I would advise people new to Katatonia to look into their latest and earliest albums first, because those are their best in my opinion.

Recommended Tracks
-A Premonition
-Wealth
-Ghost of the Sun


user ratings (977)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
Xenorazr CONTRIBUTOR (3)
Take it as a promise, this is different....

Altmer (4.5)
...

whatduffhuck7 (4.5)
...



Comments:Add a Comment 
GhostOvPerdition
December 30th 2010


132 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

right, you know the drill, don't neg out of spite, feedback appreciated.

Alucard125
December 30th 2010


605 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Agree completely, I find Last Fair Deal is better lyrically, musically, and vocally. Cant seem to get into this as much as other people.

Digging: Soilwork - Verkligheten

GhostOvPerdition
December 30th 2010


132 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i actually haven't listened to that record much, i really need to.

Dreamflight
December 30th 2010


1760 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah lyrics are pretty stupid here, my fav line would be "it's noot like I owe him money, this is different"...wtf Jonas? The vocal lines on Evidence are also kind of childish.



As for the review, its great, I would rate the record a little higher, but that's just me.

GhostOvPerdition
December 30th 2010


132 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yeah hahah that's part of the reason why I hate criminals.



and thanks man.

Jim
December 30th 2010


5110 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i reckon this one's a corker

ShadowRemains
December 30th 2010


25004 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

arghoslent

kangaroopoo
December 30th 2010


3175 Comments


Well written review, the angst + lyrics a bit cheesy but that didn't really bother me. Vocally better than Fair Deal + Tonight. Discouraged Ones great though.

Production and consistency better on their latest 2 albums but this still has the most memorable melodies and riffs for me. "Burn The Remembrance."

Wizard
December 30th 2010


20208 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Do you know what's funny about this album? It verges on nu-metal so hard and yet most of this site who loves this hates on the genre.

ShadowRemains
December 30th 2010


25004 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i'd say it has to do with the better vocals and the (most of the time anyway) better music in general...

GhostOvPerdition
December 30th 2010


132 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

agree with wizard. Yeah the lyrics are better than like, papa roach but that's not saying much.

Wizard
December 30th 2010


20208 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Horrible lyrics, great music.

ButcheredChildren
December 30th 2010


5590 Comments


on the bright side, their music did develop

ShadowRemains
December 30th 2010


25004 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

fix'd my comment cause it made no sense

Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
December 30th 2010


24656 Comments


where do i start with this band?

Scoot
December 30th 2010


19158 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

solid album

Digging: Cara Neir - Part III / Part IV

Hawks
December 30th 2010


67530 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Insurrection start with Brave Murder Day if you want their older death/doom style or The Great Cold Distance if you want the current sound.

Digging: Macabre Omen - Gods Of War - At War

Dreamflight
December 30th 2010


1760 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

or Discouraged ones if you feel like shit. :D

Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
December 30th 2010


24656 Comments


i have no idea what their current sound even is haha. i havent heard anything by them

Burn2Burn
December 31st 2010


2374 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Album rating too low >



I really like 90% of the lyrics, too. But sometimes I'm scratching my head trying to figure out why he would write a certain line haha.



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